Importing Leads by File into Your CRM - dummies

Importing Leads by File into Your CRM

By Lars Helgeson

When you load contacts and companies into your CRM for the first time, you likely are transferring that data from a system you already have in place. Your current system may be an existing CRM, or it may simply be an Excel file.

Usually data from your current system is exported into a CSV (comma separated values) file delimited by tabs or commas. These simple text files are a convenient way to import and export data from different platforms. A typical line from a CSV file looks like:

“Joe”,“Smith”,“ACME Widget Co”,“123 Main Street”,“Sometown”,“CA”

It may be helpful to set up a header row that defines what each of the columns means first. Be sure as you import new data or fields into the CRM that the CRM is set up to receive and store that new data with custom data fields.

You then need to import this data into your CRM. If you follow the instructions provided by your CRM platform, the import should be quick and easy. If you run into issues, contact your CRM vendor for help.

To get a visual look at the structure of your data, look at your data in Excel. Information is in columns, making it a simple task to see when you have data that doesn’t line up properly.

importing files into CRM
A simple Excel file layout for easy import into a CRM.

From any spreadsheet program, you can export your data as a CSV or tab-delimited text file, which should be easy to import into your CRM.

Choosing a master

If you routinely import and export data in and out of your CRM, you can save time if you set up a preference for which data overwrites or “masters” the other data. Doing so prevents old data from overwriting newer, better data. If your team is regularly transferring data, establish a protocol that everyone follows. All CRM platforms have a setting that lets you determine if the imported file takes precedence or the existing CRM data holds precedence.

Triggering automated action by import in CRM

Your CRM platform should allow you to activate some form of automation upon importing new records. You can then set up delivery of messages, schedule CRM activities, or do anything else you would like your workflows to activate when a contact is added to your CRM.

One easy way to automate lead nurturing programs is to set up drip campaigns attached to the groups that you add contacts to. Some marketing automation programs use tags, but the end workflow has the same intent. The imported file can drop contacts into those groups, and as a result, trigger emails and workflows to those new contacts. Using new data to start contacts on a buyer journey is an effective way to use your CRM and marketing automation platform’s power to generate sales.